UI employee sees all sides of totem pole


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

A framed picture of a middle-age man in uniform sits on top of University of Iowa emergency-management coordinator Shawn Sharp's desk. The photo is of Sharp’s father, who has since passed away and who was an Iowa City police officer while Sharp was growing up. Holding the frame in his hands, the 45-year-old smiles — recalling memories of the childhood he had.

“When I was a little kid, my brother and I, we lived at the Iowa City Police Department,” he said. “We used to sleep in the jail cells while my dad was working.”

Several decades later, the Iowa City native is not sleeping in jail cells –but he did follow his father into a similar career.

Sharp, who became the UI’s emergency-management coordinator in May, did not initially set out to work in law enforcement. Rather, he began at the UI in the early ’90s as a carpenter. However that position was eventually eliminated. Sharp said he enjoyed the university setting so much that he wanted to continue working on campus.

“I wanted to stay in the system, because of the good benefits,” he said. “UIPD was hiring, so I became a security officer [beginning in 1996].”

From there Sharp became a police officer, then a lieutenant and eventually a captain. In his current job, he spends his days improving plans for emergencies, creating training presentations, and collaborating with other units on campus.

Sharp’s main responsibility on campus is training and supervising the All Hazards Emergency Management Team. In the event of an emergency, the team would respond by coordinating the university’s response. 

Coworkers describe Sharp as hardworking, driven, and motivated. He is known for having a “flat-top” haircut, and an outstanding work ethic.

UI police Capt. Ian Scott, who supervised Sharp when he first entered the department, said he was always impressed with Sharp’s work and thinks his new job is a great fit.

“The position he moved into is very much for his type of personality,” he said. “He is a planner. He enjoys that aspect of putting things together, so it’s right down his alley.”

His job requires him to come to work as early as 5 a.m. and stay until the late evening. Although it can be tiring, Sharp said, he loves the feeling of helping people.

“It doesn’t happen too often, but when you see that you’ve helped someone, you’ve empowered them and made a difference in their life — that’s what makes the job worth coming back every day for,” he said.

UI police Associate Director Lucy Wiederholt said she attributes Sharp’s advancement through the ranks to his work ethic.

“He is one of those people that you can always count on to get something done,” she said. “If you give him a task, not only does he complete it quickly, but he does it incredibly well. His work ethic is very high, and he is just enjoyable to be around.”

Sharp likes to say while law enforcement came to him, he said he is incredibly glad he became involved. "I’d like to say I fell into this job,” he said, “but I don’t know. How can you escape your fate?”

Sharp encourages others to consider law enforcement as a career. "People who want to do that these days — those are heroes. I’m glad there’s people like that.”

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.